A FUNDRAISING campaign to help a little boy walk unaided for the first time has almost reached its target.

Jill Cropley launched the Footsteps for Thomas appeal in September in the hope of raising £50,000 to send Thomas Alcock, now aged four, to America for a pioneering operation.

Thomas has bilateral spastic diplegia – a type of cerebral palsy that means he suffers from painful muscle cramps and is unable to walk without the aid of a walker.

More than £40,000 has been raised so far and Jill, Tom and dad Kev are preparing to fly out to St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri for the operation, which has been booked for July 22.

“We have been fundraising since September and to have raised so much is just incredible,” said 44-year-old Jill.

“The community spirit has been spectacular and the support we have received has been brilliant.

“We have made a lot from bag packing and we will be in Wigan Tesco next weekend on Saturday and Sunday. We just need that final push now.”

The appeal has received donations from far and wide and £2,500 was raised by staff at Warrington Hospital, where Jill works in the intensive care unit, who produced a calendar.

Jill, of Lichfield Avenue, Lowton, said: “We will stay in America for about five weeks and Tom will need physiotherapy for around two years afterwards.”

“We’re hoping he will be able to walk unaided soon afterwards but the most important thing is that he will be pain free.

“He says to me ‘mummy, when my legs are better can I have a little dog so I can walk him?’ So we’ve promised to get him a little dog.”

  • To make a donation visit justgiving.com /jill-cropley